Two Weeks on the Road With Aden — Part V — Glacier

Chad Wakefield
8 min readAug 29, 2021


We had had a great day in the park and navigating Going to Sun Road. Was not the day I envisioned. Was more.

Aden really was loving that Cannon camera. He is a very creative kid and loves theatre, art, and music. So this tool that can be used to capture the world and express yourself seems like a natural extension for him. What I think I learned was that the camera was helping him discover the natural world with his own eyes and his own emotions. For years I have taken him on these trips and tried to make it my job to teach and show and inspire. During this trip, I have figured out that my job as a father now is to help him teach, show and inspire himself. He has to Find his own interests, eyes, and ears. I still need to show him and teach him, but it’s becoming his job more and more to use the lessons. And through that work I will also learn more about how I can help him. I also know that I don’t need to try and teach and guide all the time; just need to step back and enjoy the time.

At dinner, we spent time talking about what saw that day and what we wanted to do. I could not help to ask him what he would want to do on another trip, even though we have not finished this one. The thought and feeling that we don’t have many more of these left, crept back in. Why? Fear, I suppose. Fear that I may have not used the time with him so far optimally. Am I just throwing “experiences” at him or am I teaching and investing the time wisely? Are we always trying to cram stuff in? Two weeks is not enough. But what a gift. Do all we can when can. We also spent a lot of time talking about ways he can make money as he gets older. He put together through the stories of guides and waiters that many of them are doing seasonal gigs as young people and that sparked his interest; I shared that it’s a great way to see and do things you otherwise may not; as a young man he should take some chances and do some things that others may not as those are often things that pay off.

Next morning we went rafting on the North Fork River. I knew Aden was up for it as we’d done it in Utah; Michelle had set that up for us all. When we got paired up with our guide I did what I could to get Aden in front. They had him in the front with me. He was not able to paddle because of past issues with other kids. That would change. The water was cold and we got soaked with the current at every point. But we loved it. What an opportunity to be on this beautiful river.

Toward the end, although he could not “ride the Bull”, he did get enlisted to help guide from the front. In a boat full of adults, this measure of respect to Aden raised his esteem. He was the focal point for the last hour of our trip down the river — totally loving it.

At dinner that night, Aden discovered meat. He’s for the most part been a veggie type of guy with some poultry and sushi thrown in. But this is a trip where Aden is expanding his tastes and interests. He tried some of my brisket which set the stage for a big discovery later in our trip.

In Arizona we know a lot of folks with Razrs and other UTVs. But we’ve not been in one. I figured why not. Aden was down. He was ready. I think he wanted to drive-pesky laws against that and it’s a little too soon. We had seen some folks in Glacier park driving them which had inspired us. I wanted to see the full area around us, not just the park. The folks at the shop gave us a few recommendations around Hungry Horse Dam. We strapped on the helmets and away we went. Amazing views up there. We climbed and climbed. We had not seen the impact to the air from the fires in the area until we got up there so clearly. We discovered so many awesome camping spots that we had some envy. We love the spots we’ve found in AZ. But wow. Montana. At least for me though, we now have some motivation to get further off the path.

We had only done 4 hrs and it was too short. But we’ve got a show to attend. After lunch we headed to White Fish for Aden’s first ever music festival

We did it right at the beginning. Pulled the RV in early and napped for a few hours. Maybe just an hour. We started with gusto. We were going to see 7 or 8 bands at least. Hot day, huge crowd, poorly outfitted, and at least for Aden, pretty disinterested in a bunch of bands he’s never heard of. We made a few hours out there’d before we left. We did manage to hear some music standing in a creek. That’s pretty unique. Back at camp by 8.

Next morning we hit the zip lines. Always a showman. He showed off. He was having so much fun just being the adventurous kid in group (there were others but they were scared).

Sunday was our last night at the West Glacier KOA and we realized we had not had a camp fire yet, nor used any of the amenities (Gaga Ball court was on Aden’s list). We also had to pack up early the next day. So instead of finding more stuff to do after ZipLining and a visit to the Vortex, we headed back.

That last night we played some Gaga Ball. Had a nice dinner at the KOA. Aden asked for a piece of my steak and all of the sudden determined he was a steak lover. And we had our only campfire of the trip. The fire situation in Montana was pretty bad. Plus it was hot most of the trip on that side of the state, and dark well after bedtime, so fires never seemed like a priority for us.

We closed the night getting mighty organized for an early pull out.

3 am comes early no matter what. But when you have a mission, it’s part of the deal. A few days back we’d made a deal that we would just have to get up early and drive into Glacier before the crowds to secure access to Logan Pass. With Aden asleep I did the remaining disconnects of our utilities, put a few things away and helped him get into a safe spot for the drive under the cover of darkness.

It took a solid hour to make it to Logan Pass. No one really stirring. A few illegal roadside car campers (would have been me 25 years ago). And shockingly got waved to pass a cyclist around 3:45 am.

That drive in an RV on Going to the Sun was freaky enough in the daylight. At pre-dawn. Well just say I’m amazed I didn’t need to change my shorts knowing where some of the less than railed spots on the road with sharp drops were. Slow roll was understatement. Ever see an RV crawl? Well you may have YouTube it as as I don’t plan to re-enact it.

We arrived and had plenty of room to get a good spot right at the eventual exit to head east outta GNP.

I got Aden back up to his loft and went back to sleep.

We slept a good many hours in the parking lot. A few disturbances like what sounded like two car loads of profanity slinging, electronica bumpin 20 somethings.

Somewhere 7:30 am we finally set off to hike. Dragging and groggy. The air was thick with fog or smoke. Hard to tell.

We hit the Highline Trail after deciding to forgo Hidden Glacier as it was largely closed. We did not want others to decide how far we went I suppose. Highline’s distance, elevation climb and promise of wildlife were sufficient for now.

And a few miles in we happened upon these guys

Lucky us!!!! That hike was pretty amazing. We got higher than we thought and did not expect the views we took in. Even through the smoke, quit a sight. Definitely draws the conclusion that we will come back. Aden may have to carry me. But we shall return. His climbing skills and bravery for heights have really matured. I hope he never gains fear to push himself.

Deciding that between the drive ahead and our desire to see some other parts of the park we left before lunch time.

Descending Going to the Sun the fog/smoke stayed with us, but we worked our cameras just the same. More oohs and ahhs.

Seeing the long lines at the welcome center we blew out. On our way south and east. Can we make it all the way to Bozeman? Holy shit Batman, rooms are $500 a night at a Hampton Inn. Butte gets a lot of gravel behind us and is half the price. In hindsight I’d done the KOA in Three Forks (beautiful spot I gotta go back to see and fish). Butte it was though. Another chance to see anything we’d missed almost a week ago. Goodbye Glacier, see you whenever, hopefully I’m not too old to get the hikes we missed in.